I was talking about this with my husband las night, and it seemed like a fun thing to ask here. What famous "must see" sights would you happily skip, or have you happily skipped? (Things you wanted to see but didn't have time for don't count.) Two rules. It's no fun to say, "must see sights vary by the person." That's of course true and goes without saying. Also, no trying to convince thread posters to chage their mind, unless they ask be convinced. That all said, I want to return to Normandy (made it as far as Mont Saint Michel from the Brittany side) because what I saw of that part of the world, I loved. Don't care if I see the D-Day beaches. I could be convinced to go, and wouldn't put up a fuss if a travel partner wanted to go but I am not a big battle sight buff, even if I am a history buff. I don't like going to spots where a lot of people died. So what have you skipped or would skip? ETA: I don't mean that anyone should be ashamed of anything they reveal. I should have called the secrets "shameful," i guess.
I have actually visited the Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota in Darwin, MN, shortly after Weird Al Yankovic immortalized it in song (and visited). No shame. I point to it as an example of how I tried my best to give my children every cultural advantage. LOL Oh, and I eat at McDonald's abroad. In my student days, I loved that you could buy beer there in Germany. Now I mostly go there for the clean restrooms.
Pisa. Never. Also the Spanish Steps in Rome. They are stairs! Maybe the draw is the McDonalds. I didn't like Vienna. Not sure why. Just not my thing.
Keith, I love love love NYC but (small voice) a lot of that same itch can be scratched in London or a lot of other big cities in Europe. There is a different vibe here, to be sure, but a lot of the reasons to visit are theatre, food, architure, nightlife, museums. I love living here and act like a tourist all the time, taking walking tours and so on. I love it much better than living in the sticks. But for a visitor, especially from across the pond, it's expensive. I think it's ideal for an American needing a long weekend in a big city, though. That being said, there are some very fine museums. Art lovers should see the
Met just as they should the Louvre or the Prado.
This is kind of a circle logic discussion. How do you know what you missed if you skipped it?
I have toured notable museums by racing in the front door and grabbing a floor plan. Then heading directly to the rooms of interest to me seeing those and leaving without seeing any of the other famous artwork from other eras.
This really is a shameful secret: For years I had no interest in London. I think my rather silly attitude was "they speak English there, so how different can it be?" Thankfully, I now have close friends who live in London and have therefore had reason to visit. You can probably finish this post: In the course of several visits I've fallen in love with London and am now embarrassed by my previous ignorance.
Wow, Thomas I felt exactly the same way about London. I live in a town that nicknames itself "little England" and does all the phoney high teas stuff for tourists, so really had no interest in London. Luckily my stepmother had a friend who worked for the embassy and had an apartment on Sloane Square for a year .. and who continually begged stepmom to come visit as it was so lovely. Stepmom talked me into coming. We only went for a week and it only cost me airfare.. WOW,, was I wrong about London.. I ended up really enjoying it also. Places I would skip or have skipped: Well I am trying to avoid Ireland, bf wants to visit, but I don't ,, seems all wet and green to me ( too much like home) and I don't fancy visiting pubs and touring whisky distilleries all day.. lol ( hey I realize their must be more to Ireland then that , but really , not much more, and I dislike food in UK mostly, even in London) Will likely never make it to Scandanavian countries. Not sure why, too cold, too expensive and frankly not that interested in the history. We have amazing beauty here similar to the Fjords so don't feel the need to go there to see that either).
Frank, I am talking about what guide books and general wisdom deem important sights. Like the people who worry I it's okay that they don't want to go to the Louvre, as if someone were judging their itinierary if they don't. I just mean it to be a fun question; if puzzles you, no need to pay attention to the thread.
The Eiffel Tower. I will not go. I will go to Sainte-Chapelle an extra time to make up for it. I won't go to see the giant ball of twine, either. However, I have no shame about it.
My shameful travel secret is that I dislike Prague. Everyone says it is wonderful; not my experience. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we were there in peak season (mid-June, 2004) and I never travel peak if I can help it. Crossing Charles Bridge took over an hour due to the crowds. We couldn't breathe, take a photo, move, even. I also felt that (at that point in time), there weren't enough English language tour guides, so anyone could get a job. I often take a walking tour of cities in Europe. The leader was not good. She didn't know as much about her city as some of the participants had read in their guides. She had a script to present and did so by rote. We noticed that with a few other tourist service providers. (at that time I was a novice traveler so while we were technically "independent" travelers, we signed up for more tours and such than we do nowadays). And I wasn't keen on the number of drunken stag parties roaming around the town yelling obscene things to any good-looking woman. My understanding is that the city has recognized this is a problem, but what they did about it, if anything, I have no idea. The amount of sex-tourism was sad. I'm not naive, I know this happens everywhere in the world, I'm just not used to it being out in the open and especially in the open in Europe. So there you have it, a Prague-hater. PS Hubby wants to go back one day. I said MAYBE - but not peak season.
Scandinavia doesn't appeal to me so much either. Must be my Mediterranean (Portuguese) blood. Though I suppose I'd like to see the fjords, so I may make it eventually. But not when it's cold and dark!
As a Scandinavia lover, I am ITCHING to try and set the "expensive boring and cold" crowd STRAIGHT... but that is against the rules! :-) @Zoe - what's the Giant Ball of Twine? It sounds hilarious. My shameful secret is VERY shameful. I thought that Spain would be "tacky." Yes, I actually said "tacky" about an ENTIRE COUNTRY, about which I KNEW NOTHING. In my defense, that was in high school. Then in college I went to Madrid, and just... WOW. WOW, OMG WOW. LOVE. Wow.
I chose Disneyland Paris over Versailles as a day trip from Paris, and I don't regret it. I don't know if I'll ever make it to Versailles, although I would like to see the gardens.
Greece. I have zero interest in it. And the thing is, I know I should, so I'm kind of annoyed with myself for not wanting to see it. Cradle of civilization, democracy, drama, philosophy, not to mention warm and sunny. I'm sure I would enjoy it if I ever actually did go there. In the meantime, however, I have no desire whatsoever. That being said, I never had any interest in Spain either, until I looked at a few of the tour scrapbooks for the Spain tours. Now I'm just itching to go!
So on our recent trip to Germany, we drove to Fussen. The hubby wanted to go through Neuschwanstein. I knew it would be crowded as we got a late start. But after about hitting 15 _____ (insert your favorite tourist steriotype here) tourists that were wandering in the middle of the street not paying attention, the hubby looked at me and said get me out of here. SO off we went.
I have absolutely no interest in going anywhere that it is HOT! I hate hot weather; since until recently we could only travel in the summer, that ruled out Italy, Spain, Greece, Egypt, Morocco....Now that I have retired, we might go to some of the Club Med countries....When I saw your title, not your post, I was ready to post my two "shameful secrets" - I stash my raggedy underwear and save it for travel, throwing it away after one last wearing - no laundry sink for me - AND we never use the tube or the metro, I'd rather see the city instead of a dark tunnel, even if it does take longer - oh, and we also check bags and take an occasional taxicab!
@Keith - I'm not who you asked, but I am a New Yorker who moved to Seattle about a decade ago. I utterly and absolutely ADORE my city, but think it might be a little challenging as a vacation destination. Yes, there are amazing museums and great theatre and so forth... but what makes it so amazing as a place to live isn't that stuff (at least not 100% that stuff). It's the pizza and the bagels and the weird hole-in-the-wall shops and the availability of everything (all the time!), and picnics in Prospect Park, and walking over the Brooklyn Bridge in the sunshine, and the funky smells at the Fulton Street Fish Market, and the old guys in front of the bodega who you get to know because they sit there every day and that's where you buy your beer, and the crazy lady outside Grand Central Station who sings you a Christmas Carol one year and it makes you cry, and the freaking amazing dumplings at this one tiny place on Mott Street, Coney Island and dirty-water hot dogs and and the horrendous summers when you live in a wet t-shirt and sleep on the fire escape, and... sorry. Home sick! I lived in San Francisco for about 3 years, and absolutely hated it as a place to live. It rained CONSTANTLY (not lovely Seattle rain - pounding rain) and the people were snotty (not all of them, but it was a theme) and the whole place had a "suck it NYC, we're second but we're SPECIAL" chip-on-its shoulder vibe that just riled me up big time, and the pitiful excuse for a downtown shut up tight as a tick on weekends... and yet now that I don't live there and have to deal with the California-ness of it all, I think it would be wonderful for a vacation! Sensationally beautiful setting, Pacific ocean, Napa, Sonoma, great restaurants...
Been to Tuscany twice, skipped Florence. Did not like Siena or Orvieto. No interest in the Cinque Terre (love Amalfi Coast and would rather spend my time there). Not a fan of Germany. Don't like Montmartre. No interest in Portugal or Norway. Kira, I spent 3 days in NYC and loved everything about it and every second we were there. I was sad to leave.
I have consumed Kentucky Fried Chicken on four continents (five if you consider Prince Edward Island a continent), and by the time I die, I will consume it in South America and Australia. Fun Facts.....at KFCs in Russia they sell beer on tap, in China KFC doesn't actually serve fried chicken (just chicken sandwiches), but in Hong Kong they do serve fried chicken. Go figure!
I ended up going to the Louvre ( after asking the question here if it was a Mortal Sin to skip) and enjoyed it. I did however skip the Palace of Versaille and the Musee D'Orsay in favor of street markets and long walks along the Seine. No regrets.
Also- we try to see some pop culture or out of the way site that interest us - in Toronto we found the sight of the old Maple Leaf Garden (hockey stadium)(now a supermarket) and in Paris Edith Piaf's birthplace. This is a fun thread - glad you started it
I refuse to go to any Nazi death camp - anywhere, ever. My WWII vet father made REAL sure I knew that those outrages against God and Man were factual. It's just to awful. I'm in (insert country/place name) and I want to celebrate what is good in life.
Christina - LOVE this topic!!! I don't eat McDonald's unless I'm on a road trip in the U.S. or if I'm in Europe. I actually look forward to eating it in Europe because it's fun ordering in different languages, "Deux cheeseburgers, s'il vous plait!" I have no desire to go to Switzerland. It's a gorgeous country but I'd only visit it if it were the last place on earth I hadn't been to. And finally, I refuse to visit concentration camps. Christina, you hit the nail on the head: "I don't like going to spots where a lot of people died." If I went to one, I'd cry for the rest of the day thinking about my ancestors and how could such a horrible thing happen here and on and on. I know what happened during the Holocaust but don't want to see where it happened. My time in Europe is so infrequent and precious, I'd rather focus on museums and my favorite historical periods like the Middle Ages.
I'm with you ladies on concentration camps. I am very affected by footage and pictures of them and don't think I could handle a trip to one. I'd be a mess. I am not fully against seeing WW2 sites, though. The WW2 barracks under Dover Castle were interesting.
In my case is not exactly a secret (but also not something I tell openly), but here are my contributions to the list: - I yawn (internally) at folk dances, recreations or other "historically theatrical" stuff like change of guards in Buckingham etc. I actively avoid them because I'm instantly bored (and I just don't like it in general, it is not country-specific, these activities look cheesy and pointless to me). I have zero disposition to watch a palio, or watch some Irish dance around a bonfire, or watch any procession of any kind. - I currently live 60km from it, but never visited, nor have the inclination to visit the old city of Antwerpen. - I really don't feel like visiting Bath, Oxford and other famous English towns. Maybe if driving a car I might stop there sometime, but otherwise I just don't feel motivated to plan a trip around there - I've been on the Costiera Amalfitana, but never to Capri. Don't think I'd put Capri on the list if I visited there again, probably because the small tiny villages up mountains and secondary roads attract me more than a visit to Capri
I have skipped any number of 'must see' places, so I guess I don't know what I have missed... but I have no regrets since whatever I did in Europe I enjoyed it. Do have to say however there are a few places I don't need to return to... and any number of big cities that I could have spent a bit less time in... Am not in love with Vienna, Florence, Milan, Nice, Ireland or dare I say it London and Rome... Glad I have been to all these places (and a few more than once) but I haven't fallen in love with these cities as I have tons of others. Took me a while with Paris... but I'm there now....but I did not care for Versailles (too much gold for me:))
I've seen one concentration camp, Buchenwald, and that was enough. I really don't want to see any more. I still seem able to read about the Holocaust, but I can't take any more visits. And, as for NYC....I've been her two years and a bit now and the museum are really good. But as a Chicagoan, I must point out that the Art Institute is equally good. (And I have that on the authority of my Art Appreciation Author not simply my own prejudice!) But then Tenement House Museum, MOMA, the Frick, and it goes on...are amazing. But I Was just thinking the other day how many different people there are in NYC. It really is an amazing place from that perspective. I work and live on the East side and our office is within blocks of the UN. I was talking with a colleague on the sidewalk and six men walked by in gorgeous African dress. I'm not sure the word robes does the clothing proper justice. And then there was the bratty French boy who thought he was the cat's meow sitting on the luggage rack on the Bus. Sometimes I just try to count/guess all the different nationalities I see on the way home from work...it's amazing. But as to places I've skipped--not in Europe, but I never made to House on the Rock in Wisconsin in 19 years of living there. Pam
Andre reminded me of something I will never, ever do... go to a bullfight. I cringe when someone asks a question about that. I think bullfights are cruel and inhumane.
I agree on bullfights. My husband and I want to visit Portugal and Spain next year, and we are firm on no bullfights. Speaking of NYC, has anyone else who lives there noticed the huge among of French speakers lately? I feel like I can't go anywhere without hearing French those days. I don't know if is visitors, residentsm or both. And as for museums, we went to the Brooklyn Musuem yesterday, and it's lovely if none of you have ever been. They have a great Sargent watercolor exhibition on till the 28th.
I agree no bullfights,, yuck.
Even my Spanish friends won't go to bullfights.
I'm not ashamed of this, but I think others on this Helpline will think I should be ... I don't always plan my trips according to lowest possible cost or quickest and cheapest way to get to a place. I plan first by what I want to do, and sometimes the journey is equally or more important than the destination. Of course, I am budget conscious but I sometimes make choices that meet other criteria before they are solely bottom dollar/Euro/Pound.
I'm not ashamed at all, but I have close to zero interest in most of the Mediterranean, and have no desire to return to Italy. I can not tolerate hot weather, and in the colder months, I'd rather use my spare time in the mountains for winter sports. I also don't like over-planning. All I really want to know in advanced is where I'm sleeping. I usually don't prioritize what to do and see until I'm on the ground. I find restaurants with my feet and nose. I hate the term "must see". Although there's nothing necessarily wrong with following the herd, if you can't give me a better reason to see something than because it's famous, I'll pass.
Rose; Shameful wasn't really the right word. It's more about how your own quirks/likes/dislikes make you differ from what seems to be the norm. It's an interesting question. Fun to share, but nothing anyone really needs to be ashamed of, obviously. There are places I have not yet been that I feel like I ought to be excited about, but I'm really not much; Ireland; A thousand shades of green would be lovely, but then what? Greece; I suspect Athens would be a disappointment. Love the idea of islands, but bored to death at beaches. Not fond of stillness.
Ditto re: overplanning and 'must-sees'. What I find especially interesting and can't live without is possibly not someone else's top priority and vice versa. And regarding overplanning, I stopped doing that when I began to realize it was more fun to let things sort-of happen naturally - that the things I stumbled into ended up being more engaging than what I had so carefully planned for in advance. Now I plan a loose structure and let it evolve from there, keeping myself open to acting on a whim if something strikes my fancy.
(Cynthia - you aren't the only one who stashes old underwear - throw in old socks and stretched out bras as well...lol). I guess mine would be modern art museums. No interest at all in visiting any MOMA's. We did the Guggenheim in NY (mostly because we had a NYPass and it was free). Loved the architecture, but the modern art installation...it was pieces of metal and rocks 'artfully arranged' on the floor - and people look at it like it's so fascinating!? A friend in Boston also took us to the modern art museum there...I just don't get it. Picasso, Dali...I don't get the appeal. Even Monet and Renoir hold no interest. I'm more of a statuary girl then a painting girl. Didn't even do the Uffizi in Florence (which we didn't visit until our 3rd trip to Italy, after people saying - 'Oh, you can't miss Florence')...but did do Accademia...David was impressive. And agree with bullfighting...awful! ...and I hate wine/beer/most alcohol (sorry Germany, France, Italy)...hangs head in shame LOL...and to the KFC guy...ate it in Paris...hangs head in shame again ;p And I wish I had Rick Steves penchant for eating local foods, but no...pasta/pizza/chicken/hamburgers for me, not at all keen on 'local' cuisine - I like my basic boring foods, not adventuresome at all. Seafood - bleech...
I love Germany, but I have never been to Berlin and have no desire to go. I didn't like Prague. London was okay, but I never need to go again. Two days in Paris was plenty for me. So many people on here will say for Paris, Berlin, London, etc. you need 4,5,6 days to do it justice. I think no way! It seems I'm definitely in the minority in that area. Oh, and in Rothenburg I had no interest in going to the Crime and Punishment museum even though everyone I have spoken to who went there said it was great. I skipped it.
Nicole, I am with you on a lot of that. I am okay on art up to Picasso, but the very abstract art doesn't move me. I find it okay to look at, though. But it's distancing. Though I found the huge Pollick in MOMA surprising, maybe due to size. i love Impressionism. In my case it's most Renaissance painting that doesn't do it for me. I haaaaate seafood too. I think I have a phobia of it. And I am Portuguese and from Rhode Island so it's doubly shocking! My husband doesn't eat it either, and he hates beer.
I will eat a little seafood - just fish (haddock) and chips really...and I live in Nova Scotia, surrounded by the ocean...and lobster). My husband's mom is from Lunenburg, NS - a huge fishing town...and much to her chagrin, he dislikes seafood as well (we'll blame it on the fact he was born in Manitoba) - maybe once a month I can get him to have a piece of haddock, but that's it, and he complains the whole time, like it's a punishment (which it usually is...lol...I will actually use that as a threat on nights I don't feel like cooking "We can have fish or we can go out to eat" - works 99% of the time). I do like some art - we did enjoy a lot of the paintings at the Louvre, but mostly in passing while heading for the statues.
Just got back from an epic road trip around the Eastern USA, so have not had much reason to frequent this web site as often as I used to. This is the first thread I've been motivated to post on for months. We live two hours from the Wisconsin Dells - have my whole life - and I've never been there. Absolutely no interest. I don't drink, so all of the alcohol-tourism is lost on me. You can't possibly appreciate just how pervasive it is unless you don't drink. We've already seen enough palaces that I rarely feel the need to see another one - and there is always another one. I'm approaching the same feeling about castles, but not quite there yet. The center of Paris, London and Rome are filled with Parisians, Londoners, and Italians, respectively. The same can be said of almost all cities I have visited. But not Prague. Too bad. Beautiful city. I disliked it. Looked like a stop around the pond at Epcot/Disney. I'm not a big fan of "staged" history either. If it involves anyone wearing a costume, I'm not interested. But real history (or and shed of evidence visible) I love. Unlike many people (apparently), I love quiet spots in rural areas. I like to imagine the history there. Find a quiet spot in rural America and imagine what might have taken place on that same spot 500 years earlier and about all you can come up with is a group of natives passing through on their way to somewhere else. But do the same on any spot in Europe and the possibilities are endless. That appeals to me. Absolutely zero interest in resorts, casinos, spas, or anywhere "pampering" is a big business. Loved Scandinavian cities and the ethos of the people.
Here's something everyone seems to love except me - sitting in sidewalk cafes in Paris. I LOVE Paris, but have no interest in sitting in a sidewalk cafe. The tables are so tiny and sooo close together - makes me claustrophobic (which I'm not normally, nor am I a big person). And I don't think people watching is all that great a pastime in and of itself. On a related note - one thing I really am ashamed of is that on a day trip to Helsinki, despite telling the kids at least 10 times, "We have one meal in Helsinki, and I'm not going to eat it at McDonalds," we ate lunch at McDonalds. The only other places we could find to eat were sidewalk cafes with people sitting at tiny tables smoking cigarettes - the only thing even worse than McDonalds! I'm with those that hate going anywhere hot. Also I have little interest in fancy palaces (see earlier post on Versailles), I hate baroque and rococo architecture (drove right by the Weiskirche and didn't stop), and I have no interest in casinos, spas, distillery tours, and torture museums. Not big on most nightlife either. Too tired!
Interesting thread because the topic requires, at least for places that we have not seen, that we reveal our travel and other biases. Places I have actually been to and could have skipped or at least need not return to: 1. Rome--I am glad I was able to see the Sistene Chapel and St. Peter's, but I did not particularly care for the rest of the city (and I love many places in Italy). 2. Cinque Terre--It was pleasant, but I found it much overrated. For me, it simply cannot be compared to the Amalfi coast. 3. Vienna--It was nice, didn't dislike it, but was nothing special. Places I have not been to and don't particularly want to go to: 1. Greece--I have been to Corfu, which has some Venetian flavor. But--and the caveat is that the weather was bad--I did not care for it, and I just have no desire to see the country. 2. Scotland--Unless one has roots in the country, why go? 3. Art Museums--Even in the most celebrated of art museums, after an hour, I am ready to move on. And my tolerance for most modern art museums is 20 minutes. (My exception is the Musee d'Orsay.) 4. The Holy Land--I will squeeze this one in and upset more than a few. It may be I have relatively limited interest in ancient history and antiquities. Or it may be I find deplorable the fights over centuries, with claims based on religion and writings thousands of years old, over a relatively small piece of land without much in the way of natural resources. 5. Russia (or at least Moscow)--I am actually scheduled next year to visit St. Petersburg, which I am looking forward to. But I have no real interest to see Moscow, or Russia outside of SPB.
Randy, you posted all those things under Shameful Travel Secrets, but I don't think there's anything shameful in being true to one's own important values, understanding what inspires you, and being discriminating in choosing travel destinations and experiences that resonate with your values and areas of inspiration. Up above I said I don't pay much heed to what other people call 'must-sees' - except to see them as places I should research because I may not have been fully knowledgeable about their appeal. But I, too, often go against the grain to find the things that really bring meaning and depth to my travels. It's a big world out there, and unfortunately, the many destinations that were 'back door' in Rick's early days are now overridden completely by blue-book tourists (as much as I still do respect Rick's travel philosophy and his company's goals). But I want to venture quietly into hopefully some as-yet undiscovered nook (that many people would probably find boring) and try to blend in as much as possible for the short times I have to spend in Europe and the UK. For me there are few substitutes for meeting and having a quiet conversation in Portsmouth with a former seaman who shared a first-hand account of the part be played in the events of June 5-6, 1944. Or chatting to a Dutch couple in Zierikzee whose grandparents lost everything but their lives in the catastrophic North Sea flood of 1953 and stayed there to help rebuild their beloved town. Then going to see the gigantic storm surge barriers that were engineered to prevent future similar devastation. To me, these things are the real 'living history'.
I refused to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. The elevators were WAY too crowded and I didn't feel like I missed out on anything. Didn't make it to the National Gallery, Kensington, Hyde Park, Canary Wharf, or Covent Garden when I was in London. Drank cold pub ales in Camden instead. So glad to see there are other Prague dislikers here. Beautiful, but there's no escaping the Disney feel. Terrible native food. For real. I subsisted on pizza, Indian food, and beer for 5 days.
Piggybacking on Randy's most recent post, I too am bored just by the thought of "beach vacations." If I ever get to Mexico, I want to see pyramids and ruins, not the inside of a resort in Puerta Vallarta or Cancun. My sister and I are going to South Carolina for 5 days in August. Three nights in Charleston (for me) and two at Wild Dunes on the Isle of Palms (for her); both of us compromised for this trip. I'm already worried about what there is to do at the beach... I also don't have much interest in places close to me; I've heard similar sentiments from others on here. I've never been to Ste. Genevieve down the Mississippi from St. Louis. The first time I visited historic downtown St. Charles, just 20 minutes from STL, was last winter. I think many of us are interested in places far away, and might take for granted places that are close just by virtue of them being accessible.
My husband and I are not big on beach vacations either (except for a family summer home thing we do). I love the beach but would get bored of it for a week solid. We solved this problem in Puerto Rico, though, by renting a car and going on our own excursions. There is enough history, culture, and outdoors stuff there to make it very interesting, and we got in the beach time! (Not saying that to convince anyone, but in case anyone finds it enlightening.) It didn't hurt that my husband got to eat plantain based food every day. We mostly stayed away from the resort food.
My number one shameful travel secret is...I went to Paris and did not go up in the Eiffel Tower. I saved the time in order to see more of the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay. Shameful secret #2: I don't take any electronic devices with me. I am fine leaving that stuff at home. Sure there are a couple of hours of withdrawal. Shameful secret #3: I am burned out on the beach. I have visited a lot of beaches in my earlier years. Give me an (off the beaten path) village in England or a stone circle or a Roman Britain site anytime over the beach. Ditto on the bullfights...yuck.
We just came back from a month in Europe. Our last leg was from Dubrovnik to Rome before we came home. Instead of going into Rome for our last night in Europe and having a passagiota and eating Roman food we elected to stay at our hotel and have a big fat Marriott burger. :) Like another poster I also plan well, but don't bargain shop my whole vacation. If I get a great deal, wonderful. If I spend 200 euro on the room that has a/c and the best vacation memories ever.....I spend it. Last one.....I actually check in on Facebook at most of our stops. I know, I know. :)
I have to say ditto on the death camps & the bullfights @Kira - loved your ramble about NYC - I have been to a lot of big cities and none can really compare to NYC We went to Berlin & did not go inside anything! Not one museum nor building. We will return and do it proper! We visited Brugge and weren't all that impressed!
I had dreamed of visiting Rome and I'm glad I was able to but I have no desire to go back. Rome was so crowded that we were unable to ride the metro due to the literal "crush" of bodies trying to get on. I did eat at a little sidewalk cafe and had one of the great meals of my life! Next time I go to Italy I will see Pompeii, Florence and Venice.
@Kira, Nancy answered the ball of twine question before I got to it. As for the postings about visiting concentration camp memorials, I just want to share my own experience: I've been to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Mauthausen, and Majdanek. I went because I felt I had to - it was more of a pilgrimage than a vacation site. What I found, along with the horrors of reality during this genocidal period, were the human stories. The stories of resistance by the prisoners, civilians covertly trying to help, the pieces of art (literature, painting, drawing, photographs, and even sculptures) created by the prisoners overwhelmed me with hope and faith in the human spirit to prevail, just as the evidence of crimes against humanity overwhelmed me with the fragility if the human person.
A zillion thumbs-up for Zoe! When I visited Auschwitz, it literally made me sick to my stomach, but I don't regret for a minute making the trek. Being there in person is the ultimate remembrance for the victims.
I have no interest in visiting Germany or Austria. Also Las Vegas. Also no interest in taking a cruise on one of those obscenely huge ships. No, thanks.
here goes: I HATE over planning for a trip. I will do research to find things to do or places to go. But I refuse to make reservations for all my hotels, museum visits (unless required by museum),trains, buses and ferries. I will make a rough itinerary for my trip to give to relatives in case of emergency but no more then that. I have more fun just winging it and meeting people then planning every second of my trip. I also do not view travel between cities/hotels as a lost sight seeing day. You can still see and visit places as you go to another place. Its also fun to discover places and views that were not on your itinerary. I also like to talk to people on the bus/train/plain as we are going somewhere.
Hi, Good question on likes/dislikes/preferences, etc. Very revealing. The "shameful travel secrets" in Europe...No interest in going to Spain or Portugal, parts of Italy (Rome, Tuscany, Cinque Terre, etc. which are way down the priority list), contrary to the general interest in Italy, no interest in seeing the Swiss Alps or the rest of the country. I don't find Amsterdam with exception of some important places, the Riksmuseum, Anne Frank's House, etc that fascinating or attractive for return visits. The city doesn't do anything for me. The same for Denmark and Norway...very low on the interest/priority list. Belgium is interesting, esp the small towns which are on the "to visit" list, but don't care for Belgian or Dutch beer, both of which are very prevalent in Northern France. I much rather devote the time/energy/money going to, repeatedly, England, (London and other cities), Austria and its captivating/fascinating Vienna, Germany and Berlin, (die dufte Stadt), France...east, south, north, and of course, Paris, Poland, Finland, and Budapest. Not interested in casinos, resorts either.
I'm not ashamed or keeping this a secret, but I have zero interest in israel. Would never go there. Would not be interested in a cruise of any sort either.
Janet, you make a good point about traveling between places. I love train rides in particular for the views and because it gives me a chance to rest. Since my husband is a huge walker, and since I usually end up with some kind of foot pain, I need that break!
"I am not a big battle sight buff, even if I am a history buff. I don't like going to spots where a lot of people died." Christina: You should be a shame to even write that remark. A lot of people died there so you and others could be free to travel and even write such shameful ----.
i never eat american fast food on my travels. however one year after 20 nights on the road i broke down in budapest. i ate at burger king near the chain bridge. the place was packed. it took 5 minutes to order then 20 minutes until my cheeseburger and fries came up. i ate inside. maybe the best burger of my life. it still seems sleezy. have fun,be safe. jeff
Shameful secret? DH went to Auchan on a wine run and came back with 3 bottles
of Sutter Home Chard. He'll never live that down!
Not really shameful secrets, more like I just don't get it. I don't understand and have never taken one of those huge boat cruises. I don't understand traveling all the way to Europe (or any far away place) to shop. And, I don't understand baking your poor skin on a hot beach....never have, even as a teenager. One place I wish I had skipped was Pisa-tacky souvenir stalls all around it. I got a better view of the tower on my flight out-wish I had known ahead of time. And, maybe this qualifies as 'shameful', but I really wasn't impressed with the Cinque Terre, but I was there in June and I might like it better in the off season when it isn't that crowded.
Shameful travel secrets? Well, you see, there was this transvestite in Prague a few years back...
The more I travel the more I hate New York City! After visiting great cities around the world and the US I have come to this conclusion: It's a city that hates the people who live there, hates the people who have to commute there for work, and hates the people who travel there and have to deal with one of the most user unfriendly transit systems in the world. I've been to London more times in the past 10 year then I have visited Manhattan. Come to think of it I've been to Newark more times in the past five years than the Big Apple, and as long as I can afford to travel it's gonna stay that way:)
I can appreciate the importance of a battle and the sacrifice those who died made without seeing the battle site. The fact that I feel it all too deeply is the problem. I wanted this thread t be a safe space to confess such things. There is no need to take me to task as if I were a child. You have no real idea what my awareness or appreciation of history is. My father was a veteran, and believe me, I am more than aware of what that entails. I am really regretting my use of "shameful," which I swear I meant sarcastically.
@Janet... I could travel with you:)))
I also agree with travel days not being 'lost'. You still have them and just because one is not running around doing the checklist thing doesn't make that time a waste. I have found some of my most unexpected memories while 'traveling'.
Michael S, I went to NYC ONCE a long time ago, and couldn't wait to leave. I'd much rather travel to a city in most European countries than visit NY. Thanks for reminding me why it's not on my bucket list.
i never eat american fast food on my travels. however one year after 20 nights on the road i broke down in budapest. i ate at burger king near the chain bridge. the place was packed. it took 5 minutes to order then 20 minutes until my cheeseburger and fries came up. i ate inside. maybe the best burger of my life. it still seems sleezy. have fun,be safe. jeff My hubby's work sent him to Siberia for six weeks and I met him in Rome on his way home. There we were, IN ROME!, and he looked at me and said "I have to go to McDonald's". So we did!
Travel is so entirely individual, and certainly to each his/her own with no judgment. But NYC is a fascinating, sophisticated city with top-class museums, opera, ballet, theatre (both on- and off-Broadway), dining of every type, history, tourist attractions, shopping, unique and dynamic neighborhoods, and one of the world's greatest urban parks. It also has close proximity to beaches and mountains that offer great natural beauty. It certainly has its place among the world's greatest cities.
I actually LIKE staying in really NICE hotels! I don't always go for (in fact not often) the quaint, small b&b. I look for a centrally located hotel. It might be big or small, it may even be a bit expensive. It MUST be clean and I must have my own bathroom. I also Hated Paris. We went on a day trip via the Eurostar- mostly to see the Louve (which we didn't get to do since the staff went on strike at noon that day) and to see if we might want to return for a longer visit. The city was dirty and the people were rude. Enough for me. Don't think that we didn't give it enough time... We've done the 'day trip' try out thing several places. Our day trip to Budapest really made we want to return there sometime. Same way- our one night stay in Hong Kong made me salivate to return and made me want to see more of China. It's also how I got hubby to 'try' Scotland- we did a day trip up to Edinburgh. Now it is one of his favorite destinations.
I think NYC is a great place to visit and live, but like anything else in life, it's a trade off. I have tons of stuff to do, so I have to deal with the annoyances the subway, etc. I have a tiny apartment, but I live right off Central Park (not as fancy as it sounds). As with anything else, it depends what things a person likes, what they can live with, and what balance they need to be in for that person's happiness. I find the city invigorating, but others may find that same energy enervating. Luckily, there are many options so all of us have great options of places to travel and live in!
I'd like to put in a plug for Greece, which is just too wonderful; not Athens, most of which was thrown up quickly to accommodate a huge influx of Greeks repatriated from Turkey in 1923, but the countryside, which actually smells like herbs, the lovely people, the fragments of ancient columns lying around (sometimes supporting flower pots in a back yard), the tomato salads with TDF olive oil, the O'Keefe-like contrasts of land and sea, etc. Not to mention that Greece can really use tourist dollars about now. Having said that, here's my shameful (but not really) secret: While at a conference in NE Greece, I could have gone on a tour of the semi-autonomous region of Mt. Athos, which is fairly exclusive, and full of picturesque monasteries. I did not go because, believe it or not, the place forbids women. As for bullfighting, I'm with everyone else. When I force myself to go to Madrid to see the Bosch paintings in the Prado, it will be surreal to be among people of whom a majority presumably enjoy bullfighting.
Should I be ashamed that: 1. I have no interest in Italy, except for Milan and Lake Como, maybe ? Have no idea why I feel this , but Italy holds no appeal for me. 2. I want to go to Ibiza for the clubs and the music? 3. I am completely ambivalent about Paris, and like Italy, have no idea why? Everyone loves it! I will go there eventually, and hopefully will find it as exciting and wonderful as everyone says. 4. Greece...ugh!? But want to visit Crimea. 5. I would never fly intra-Europe. I'll take a 12 hour train trip and enjoy every minute of it. A day on a train travelling from Pt. A to Pt. B is not a wasted day. The train trips are always highlights for me.
In 2011, hubby and I were planning a trip to Washington and NYC...and I had us for 5 nights in NYC (well, Jersey City) and hubby asked 'Can we really find something to do there for 4 days?'...we didn't even get out of Manhattan! No Bronx, no Coney Island...nothing! Not even time for Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty. Loved it - and can't wait to return in a few years. Any cities I didn't care for? Munich - but a half day didn't do it justice (and I've told this story, but that was our whirlwind trip and hubby forgot we even were in Munich). Milan, other then the Duomo, was meh for us. But pretty much everywhere else we've been we've loved. EDIT (Rose reminded me I probably meant Brooklyn...not the Bronx...lol) ...and in two of the best cities in the world for plays/musicals - London and NYC - nope, not even interested. Not a shameful secret but...
Places/ways to travel also not on my list - anywhere tropical, like Dominican or Cuba (I'm afraid if I go once in dark dreary Feb I'll want to go all the time), cruises (tho I could probably be persuaded to do an Alaskan cruise) and package vacations - maybe when I'm elderly - I wanna do what I wanna do when I wanna do it. :)
My shameful secret. Once went to London and spent a lot of time watching TV, going to Movies, and chatting up locals at Laundromats and pool halls. Not high culture but had a great time!
Just returned from the 14 day MyWay Europe plus 2 extra days in Paris. Short times in each place, so we had to assume we'd be back (although right now I'm pretty sure we won't go back to Paris). Paris - no Louvre, no Orsay, no Eiffel Tower, all happily and purposely skipped, but walked every step to the top of the Arc de Triomphe with no waiting and few people at 8 pm (lift was down). Saw the water lilies at l'Orangerie just before closing at a discounted rate and with few other people. Browsed Bastille Market, loving it and buying nothing. Beaune - no Hospices de Beaune, but drank all the wine we could stand on the tour of the Patriarche vaults. Venice - no Doge's Palace, no St. Mark's, would maybe have done these with more time, but were more interested in the back streets and cicchetti crawl. Cinque Terre - didn't hike a bit
Rome - no Coliseum, no Forum, but we did go walk around them - literally, around them - had great view of the Forum from the back side. Visited Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel on Friday night with no crowd. Climbed to tip-top of St. Peter's.
Elaine, I totally agree about the trains! I love to travel by train, but I want to travel during the day so I can enjoy the scenery. Don't especially care for night trains; can't sleep unless the bed is extremely comfortable and there is no noise; that's not going to happen on a train.
I have visited Dachau and Auschwitz. I found the experience very moving and wouldn't trade it for anything. Didn't like London on the first visit, warmed up to it more on the 2nd visit. I hate all modern art museums, regardless of how famous they are. While not related to a "must see sight", my shameful secret is that I hate dining when traveling. I can't read the menu or don't know what the items are (pig knuckles - really?), think it is generally expensive for what you get and most often don't like the food. I'm just not very adventurous in the food department and I would rather spend my money on something to bring home, rather than on a meal. While I don't love McDonald's and seldom eat there at home, the golden arches are sometimes a welcome site for me abroad.
I certainly share some of the above views...on Italy: in Milan the famous opera house and Venice. On New York: way down the priority list. I can very well understand the feeling that the more cities one visits in Europe, New York keeps getting shoved down the priority list. Basically I've got no interest in New York but know it's one of the places I'll have to get around seeing...just not yet, only after Europe, China, Japan... Absolutely an interest in seeing French towns/cities. Practically always a positive, exciting or, at least, a neutral feeling being in the place, be it Arras, Strasbourg, Bayeux, Perpignan, Caen, Toulon, Amiens, Colmar, Compiegne, Lille, Toulouse, Metz, Troyes, Cambrai, etc. Only one city in France (and Europe, if I have to name one) left me cold, negative vibes, a real turn-off...Lyon, don't care ever returning there.
Christina, this is a fascinating thread. Thank you so much for starting it. And as one who has found moving places like the Normandy beaches and in the US Antietam, I understand and respect your view on visiting battlefields.
I once read something about Uzbekistan and decided it would be just the place to go. By the time I found a hole, a couple months had passed and I transposed the destination to Tajikistan. Which was very fine, but I'd gone to the wrong place. I have a master's in geography.
From now on, I am going to visit places where I can eat when I'm hungry. I can tolerate 7 pm dinners, but in Lecce last October, there was not a crumb to be found between about 2 pm and 8 pm. Not even pizza, not a piece of cheese. By 8 pm we were starving. We found this annoying in Barcelona as well, although there we could keep starvation at bay with tapas. The ability to find delicious food whenever I want it is one of my favorite things about Greece. They do anything they can to make visitors happy. That's why I was surprised to see how many posters to this question have negative opinions of Greece. The islands are not all about beaches. They are full of history ... Roman aqueducts, ancient amphitheaters, buildings that housed the Knights of the Crusades, the cave where the apostle John wrote the book of Revelation. Many of the islands were heavily involved in World War II; on one small island (Leros) we found a meticulously maintained cemetery with graves of soldiers, sailors and airmen from Great Britain, Canada and South Africa. And natural history, too: one island (Nisyros) has an active (but not erupting) volcano that you can walk around inside. Another has a petrified forest; many have natural hot springs. All this, in settings of incredible natural beauty with (except for the more well known islands) very inexpensive lodging and food. We're going to Turkey (then Greece) in September and from what I've read, it seems the Turks will feed us ... I hope so!
@Ed... Well, I have my masters of photography which allows me to be clueless... but, my first trip to Europe (about 15 years ago) my daughter and I ended up in Paris (unplanned... we could not figure out how to take the train to Prague)... so we saw a bunch of people standing in line. We had no idea what the line was for (there were no signs) so we just followed them in to this crazy looking glass pyramid:)
Hi, I can understand your sentiment not to see a battle field...well put. The sites of Antietam or Gettysburg are also very poignant. I haven't seen them yet, but I've scoured for an entire afternoon, almost six hours, the battlefield of Waterloo, a very compact place as battlefields go. I had a car at my disposal then.
I don't think I would go out of my way to avoid a battle field, but it's not my first choice and I wouldn't propose it. I just saw the Civil War in American Art exhibit at the Met Museum (great exhibit at one of the top reasons to visit NYC, by the way since that has been a topic throughout this thread). There were some photos of the dead on various battlefields, and I kind of just had to hurry though that section. But it was a moving and enlightening exhibit, overall.
Harlem, Netherlands; Toledo, Spain; and Gimmewald, Switzerland were all underwhelming to us and prominently featured in the RS books and videos.
I'm not ashamed but ... For Paris, I spent more time researching cheese than I did researching what to see.
Also took the Eurostar from London to Paris for 24 hours. Was fun for the day, but no burning desire to go back.
Hated first trip to Rome more than 30 years ago. In the attempt to see the Sistine Chapel, was too hot, humid, and crowded, and "swam" upstream against the crowds to get out of the Museum as quick as possible. So gave Rome a second try with my husband in April, spent two nights, had a great time, and this time actually saw the Sistine Chapel.
Thanks for the response!!! I love the little sites you can run across while moving locations. I also have no interest in seeing Germany or the Middle of Europe countries. Do not know why but their history just does not interest me. I live by mountains (five or so active volcanoes) so going to Europe to see mountains is just a waste. I am been to the Vatican Museum and ST Pete's and have no interest i going back. I saw, I took pictures, I left!!! Another secret is I went to Starbucks in New Zealand because it was only place in the country to get a decent espresso.
This is not a place, but (I am speaking heresy now to most of my friends) I have no desire to go on a cruise. If I am ever convinced to go on one (unlikely), it would be to Alaska. Oh, and I never plan to go to Las Vegas. I saw it from the airport once, which was good enough for me.
I absolutely hated Brugge.
...also (how do I keep coming up with more?) - I have been to Venice 3 times, have not set foot on a gondola and don't intend too...unless I was able to find a few more people to split the cost - I just can't justify 80+ euro for a 'boat' ride, even if it is the 'most romantic thing ever'...
All of these great comments and nobody has yet mentioned the "one-cheek sneaks" on the plane or travel buses (passing gas) and hoping nobody around you notices.
Michael from Griffith is just plain rude and should be ashamed of his post. I have no desire to go to Russia. Nothing there sounds attractive to me. I also have no desire to go to the Cinque Terre. Just a bunch of old towns in a pretty setting with a ton of tourists. I found Munich to be ok with some interesting history, but the whole Oktoberfest hype leaves me cold. Can take it or leave it, where Berlin on the other hand attracts me to come visit over and over again. Paris I can also take or leave. Pretty place, has some interesting sites and museums, found the people there pleasant, but it just didn't do anything special for me. It doesn't draw me back there at all. I prefer more of the underdog cities as they pique my interest, with lots of sites that don't come out and slap you in the face. Places like Milan, Brussels, Koblenz, and yes, Cologne & Frankfurt. They may be known for one or two things, people make a quick stop to go see that one site and then write off the rest of the city. Leaves more space for people like me who want to explore the rest of these historic and fascinating places.
I agree. I guess I really don't understand how not visiting a particular site, even something as important and hallowed as the D-Day beaches is somehow shameful. By that measure, visiting NYC without going down to "Ground Zero" and the memorial would be an unpatriotic, shameful act. Never mind that you might actually be there for some other reason, such as dinner and a show, a MoMA visit, or the Tribeca Film Festival. Not everyone is interested in battlefields...that doesn't mean they don't care about their own country's history or what others may have sacrificed. Same goes for the concentration camps. Personally, I get much from visiting places like Arlington, Yorktown, Chancellorsville, Mauthausen, or Seodaemun Prison, but that's just me, and every other tourist may not dig this stuff like I do. That's fine.
Thanks, Jo and Michael! And thanks to everyone who, for the most part, has kept this thread in the fun spirit I intended for it! As to Russia, my husband spent a semester in Moscow so I expect he will want to take me someday. I don't know if I care about Moscow so much, but I would like to see the Hermitage. He enjoyed it as a place to live since at the time his access to all kinds of amazing culture, such as the Bolshoi, was very cheap. I'm sure things are a bit different now.
Well said on taking long train rides, day or night. I don't see them as a waste of time either when they exceed five-six hrs. Normally I wouldn't fly within Europeas as an option unless I was really pressed for time. I'd rather take that multi-hour train ride. Visiting battle field sites is a personal decision whether you avoid them, are indifferent, or seek them out. I see that primarily based on priority and interest. The ones I've seen are all in Europe: Waterloo, Montmirail, Deutsch Wagram, the Somme, Seelow Heights, etc....haven't seen Sedan or Mons, or the Normandy beaches yet.
John from Tampa (previous page), don't feel bad. I once went to London, stayed at a Bloomsbury hotel, and did nothing but go to the British Museum every day and then eat Indian food for dinner and go back to the room and go to sleep early. Five days of heaven.
Since several people have mentioned their "shameful" lack of enthusiasm for Paris, let me offer this reversal; Before ever setting foot off the continent, I had a strong aversion to almost anything French. Perhaps it was the over-eagerness everyone else seemed to show about wanting to visit. Maybe it was the snobby sophistication people seemed to ooze when talking of France. Maybe it was people's obsession with wine drinking. Whatever it was, I was fully prepared to dislike France and Paris in particular. We went to England twice first, and even a whirlwind tour of Scandinavia. But then in 2009 we decided to do several rentals and spend a month in France and a week in Paris. I hesitate to play favorites with the trips we have taken. They all have their own unique character and d pleasant memories. But if pressed, I would have to say that that trip in 2009 was my favorite, and there is no city in Europe I feel more comfortable in and happy to return to than Paris. That's my twist on the shameful secret.
@Rebecca, you will find those hole in the floor toilets in some public restrooms in the Tuscan hill towns and small town train stations. I saw one in France, either in Provence or the Languedoc Rouissillon region. I cant remember exactly where. I don't know that it's possible to avoid them all together.
Well there we go ... 100 posts for this thread. Christina, what have you created?
Broaden your horizons just a tad and you'll realize that a hole is a pretty sophisticated refinement.
Not for women Ed... ;)
Andrea, thanks for the warning! I will just have to grin and bear it to see Tuscany! One of my Shameful Travel Secrets is that I love luxurious bathrooms, but I certainly know that's not to be had everywhere. And I'm prepared for it. Spent years camping out and hiking with my dad, so sometimes a restroom is a very secluded woods area. :D
Amen Susan - I had to use that horrible train station hole in the ground in Monterosso in Cinque Terre(at least it had porcelain around it) and let's just say...you shouldn't wear a wider-legged dress pant while trying to use one of these. Let's just say, guys, at least you can aim when going #1...if you are squatting, trying to keep your balance and trying to hold up your shirt and keep your pant legs out of the aim of fire, it doesn't always work. I can't think of a time I was ever more disgusted..both with myself and the washroom...at least I think I had some wet hand wipes with me. Heaven forbid if you had to go #2...just...ugh. That said, loved my first visit to CT in Sept 2008, but it lost a LOT of it's charm in Sept 2012...too crowded by far. I know that they need the tourist dollars after the horrible floods, but...soooo many people (of which we were just 2 more in the horde)
Susan and Nicole, I think I had rather "go" in the woods rather than face falling down while standing over one of those holes. You're holding your pants out of the line of fire, holding your scarf so it doesn't fall off, so if you start to fall, well, let's just say I'll be searching for a thick stand of bushes and trees instead. Do they have poison ivy in Italy?
The "holes" aren't just in Tuscany, they are all over Italy.
The posts about NYC reminded me that 30 years ago I traveled to NYC on business about every 6-8 weeks for 2 years. Never saw a thing outside the streets between the hotel and the garment district. Hated new York then, but never experienced anything. But now, we look for excuses for a long weekend in NYC. Which brings me to my next thought. How many of us travel on business to great places and never have the time, or take the time see anything. It took me 4 trips to China before I finally had the time to see the Great Wall. Went to Vegas annually for a trade show for years, and finally, 30 years later finally visited the Hoover Dam. Shameful that one can be so close to someplace great, but fly back home without even thinking about what you are missing.
So next month I fly to Tampa for a one day meeting. Is it worth flying in a day early to see anything nearby?
omg Rebecca, I laughed so hard at your post I was doubled over. You and Nicole are exactly right! Much rather a bush or tree... Never a hole! They are disgusting. Is Ed reading this... ;) There was one in Montalcino at the castle. And you still find them in France... they have one at Vaux-le-Vicomte... but also regular toilets. What women would choose a hole?? I grew up in France and my first day of kindergarten I went to the restroom and found nothing but holes. I was horrified!... at age 4... and never ever used the bathroom there... Ah... such happy memories.
Well, what a delight to read all these posts. Great thread, Christina! I am sad to say I have not been to NYC since I was a teen. Must remedy that. We ate at McDonald's on the Champs-Élysées. Hopped onto stools and watched the world walk by. And we never eat at McDonald's here at home. No desire to see Greece or Spain. Don't know why. No desire ever to return to Mexico for beaches or anything else. Skipped Stonehenge. Rode the shuttle, didn't hike up to Neuschwanstein. Preferred taxis in London to the Tube. Also not a fan of big cruise ships. If we could be dinner table mates with folks from the Helpline, that might make a world of difference! We did love our week on the Delta Queen, and did cruise Alaska, and loved that as well. Drawn to battlefields...Gettysburg, Antietam, Ardennes, Normandy, all very moving. Have never been to a concentration camp, but my father-in-law helped to liberate one, and I think that will do.
Thought Brussels the dirtiest city. Trash everywhere. Skipped the little peeing fellow.
Here's one that, on reflection, I actually am genuinely ashamed of... I took a picture of the one of the incinerators in Auschwitz. I had written previously on how annoying I find it in art museums when people take pictures of practically every piece of art. Then one day when my travel pictures were shuffling through my computer screen saver, I saw the Auschwitz photo from a trip I took years ago. Oops... hypocrite.....
That reminded me of a similar thing...we visited Mauthausen in late afternoon...essentially devoid of tourists and actually kind of creepy because of the stillness, quietness, and lack of people. I took a photo in the gas chamber and another of the incinerators. Later that night when reviewing the photos, I decided to erase all of them I took during our visit...just an uneasy feeling about having these mixed in with my happy travel photos. I decided to hold off & then I forgot about it. Back home, I ended up feeling glad that I kept them...they enabled me to share with others who weren't there just how terrible this stuff was. BTW, my travel companions moved on from the gas chamber & I was the only one in there for another 5 minutes or so. I don't believe in paranormal stuff, but I had a seriously weird feeling come over me & I had to get the hell out of there quickly when it did...one of the weirdest experiences I've ever had. Anyway, it would have been a shame for me to have erased those photos.
Tom, I have the same pet peeve! Taking a picture of a painting is boring--it's just a box within a box. I will sometimes take a picture of a sculpture if the lighting and angle will make for a nice picture. But I don't think there is much hope of making any kind of artful picture of a painting--just look it up online or buy a postcard!
I've been to Paris at least ten separate times and even lived there for six months and I've never been up the Eiffel Tower, and have no plans to go. I enjoy seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up at night and I've seen great views of Paris from the top of the Arc de Triomphe and the Montparnasse Tower. I just don't feel the desire or need to wait in line for the Eiffel Tower.
The "holes" aren't just in Tuscany, they are all over Italy. And France. Don't stop at the smaller "aires" if you don't like them. And watch out for the smaller town and village municipal "facilities". Even as far north as towns near Paris.
The thing I skip in Europe is WWII sights. I'm most interested in history that predates American history. Among those sights are the Nazi Concentration Camps. While it's important history never to forget, it's too much of a downer for my vacation money.
One of my favorite travel secrets is that when flights to Europe get too expensive (like this year), I go north, to Canada. We just returned from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for 2 weeks. We were looking for beautiful forests and fishing villages. You know, places where they have lobster shacks. We were looking forward to Celtic music and beautiful native lassies dancing. What we found was $12.99 per six pack for beer and a 15% sales tax. Restaurant food was about 80% higher than we are used to paying, and it was typical bar food. The forests have been logged, and I can find more beautiful mountains in East Tennessee. And the lobstermen had been on strike. The Celtic musicians don't show up until July 15th, when it gets warm enough to have festivals. The only music we heard was hard core Country and Western. We found everything we wanted in the Maine coastline. We found incredible bed and breakfasts, harbors with 2 masted sailing schooners and lobster shacks. And we could actually afford to eat, drink and fill our gas tanks. But the Canadian people are absolutely great.
I live about 35 miles from Galveston and have been on a lot of cruises, we take at least one cruise every year. We went to the Caribbean in May and we're going to Alaska at the end of this month. I love the food! I've been to the Pearl Harbor Museum and Dachua, to me, it's a good reminder of what man can do to man. I study the history of places and what interests me would bore most people (including my wife). I really like Ireland but hate Venice, too many people. While I don't want to go to one, I like the fact that bullfights are still a part of Spanish culture (except Barcelona where the bull ring is now a shopping mall). I try not to eat at American fast food places in Europe but I've eaten at McDonald's in many places and I ate in the Subway shop in Florence. This thread just points up the differences in our interests and what fascinates one person, bores another.
David - Nova Scotia cries for you ;) Believe me, people are always b!tching here about the high cost of alcohol (doesn't matter to me - non-drinker) and the sales tax (but be happy - 15 or so yrs ago, it was 18.8%!). And the fact that a lot of tourist sites don't even open til mid-May, and some aren't open all week long! They have got to get their act together here when it comes to tourism. I'm surprised you didn't throw in our outrageous gas prices! And the sad state or our highways...but come to Nova Scotia! See Cape Breton, the Annapolis Valley, Halifax, the South Shore (my fav - Lunenburg and Mahone Bay and Peggy's Cove). Skip New Brunswick tho - lol.
I just got back from a couple weeks in Canada, including Montreal and Quebec. Like David, I found I can eat and sleep much cheaper in Europe. At least now I know why Tim Horton's is so popular in Canada.
I have no desire to visit Germany, though I wouldn't mind visiting Berlin for a short trip. I don't like beer and I'm a vegetarian, so the beer gardens and various sausages have zero appeal to me. I don't like parades or musicals, and for some reason I lump dislike for cultural centers into that grouping. I love art museums and will rarely skip one, but I never use the audio guides at museums and I like to walk through pretty quickly. Much to my husband's dismay, I have no desire to do any sort of cycle touring trip, which is his dream. I don't mind renting bikes in various places and just riding around a little, but the thought of prancing around Europe in Lycra cycling gear makes me cringe. The first time I went to Europe, my friend and I went to the rock and roll wax museum in London - total rip-off! I had a much better time at the National Gallery, which was free. We skipped Pompeii completely on our very long tour of Italy. No regrets on that, walking around a dusty, hot, crowded ruin didn't sound as good as a day in Naples eating amazing pizza, and we saw enough cool stuff at the archaeology museum. And I love love LOVE NYC!!!
"...I found I can eat and sleep much cheaper in Europe." How true, once you arrive there and don't count the cost of the plane ticket. True of France outside of Paris, and especially true of Germany in the summer.
Pat, I too was not overly interested in looking at Stonehenge through a fence, but couple of years ago a friend booked me and my family on a private tour of Stonehenge. We arrived there in morning before it opened. We were a group of about 25 people and no one else was there. We were allowed inside the fences to walk among the stones, and take some amazing photos. I think the cost was over $100 (it included stops in Bath and Lacock also), but it was one of the best, most inspirational experiences I've had in any trip to Europe.
Last month, we drove right by Blarney Castle in Ireland. We parked in the lot, saw the entrance fee, and all 4 of us decided on-the-spot to skip it and drove on to Kinsale. We got there in time to join in a wonderful walking tour of this pretty town instead, so we were ultimately very pleased that we didn't just give in to doing one of Ireland's guidebook "must-sees"...
Diane that reminds me of my visit to Stonehenge.. had a lovely view from the parking lot and from the fence ... I saw the price and really, just was not motivated to go in.. and serioulsy still do not regret it at all.
On my last multi country European trip, I wouldn't have minded missing Switzerland. I'm not a fan of mountains or snow. Also, I don't remember what we ate, but I do remember not liking it. Hope I don't offend and Swiss.
On my last multi country European trip, I wouldn't have minded missing Switzerland. I'm not a fan of mountains or snow. Also, I don't remember what we ate, but I do remember not liking it. Hope I don't offend and Swiss.
Sorry Christina. My post finally overtook yours! Lol.
Oh, good topic Christina! Just returned from France, and I know -- I KNOW -- I'm supposed to say the wine was incredible but I just really didn't enjoy the wine. <hiding face in shame here> The cider on the other hand? Incredible!
Steve, I wrote a poem in honor of your victory in your thread. As to Stonehenge, I agree it was underwhelming through a fence, but I am pleased to learn that there are tours that make it a better experience. I was never keen to go back, but someday I might as I'd like to see more of that area anyway.
My husband and I ate at a Mexican restaurant in Zurich and Italian restaurants in London, Chamonix, and Stuttgart.
I have lived all my life within 30 minutes of The Saratoga Race Track. (Racing season is upon us again.) I have been one time and have no desire. Stinky horses in the summer heat does nothing for me. Las Vegas, never been and don't plan on it. I have been to Jamaica twice. Don't ask me why I made the second trip, but would not go back. Actually the whole Caribbean thing doesn't appeal to me. And I will never cruise. In my opinion that is for people who want someone to plan their vaction for them. Sheep to the slaughter in my book. That is not TRAVELING, that is CRUISING. I do love Israel and Petra. Been twice and would return. I absolutely love Europe. As for shameful travel secret refer to following post:
CAPRI PANTS FOR MEN. Couldn't resist Christina :)
I must have missed the poem christina.
who here has been to Saratoga? What are your thoughts?
Have never had any desire to go see the Mona Lisa or The Last Supper in person. Even when I was in Milan, I asked about it, was told it was booked, and I just let it go with an oh well. No regrets, as I found Milan to be delightful and I had more time there to explore. Crowding around a picture for a couple of minutes just doesn't do it for me. Probably won't go see David either.
There, I said it.
@Jo and others, I am grateful that people who aren't interested in specific sights just skip them, although it takes some courage to explain why one didn't go to the Louvre, for example. It leaves more space for the people who do want to see these things. And, it's your trip, you should do what you want (within legal and moral limits).
-I have zero interest in going up the Eiffel tower. I love seeing it from afar, I think it's worthwhile to see it up close (once, maybe twice) but I simply don't understand the appeal of dealing with the hassle of going up for a view of Paris...which doesn't include the Eiffel Tower. -To be honest I'm not into views in general. I love seeing a city and appreciating it's architecture and atmosphere up close, I don't get excited about seeing it from above. -I think Dubrovnik is wildly overrated and don't understand why people stay there for days. For me, I was good after about 6 hours. Walk the walls, wander the streets a bit, have a beer on the cliff bar, and get OUT. Too crowded, too touristy, too expensive. -I wish I liked Dublin more. It's the only major city in Europe I've visited that I wasn't enthralled by. The people were friendly, the book of Kells and Trinity was cool, but beyond that? I'm a pub person and didn't find the pub scene there to be awesome until I found a modern microbrewery. The Irish pubs there were like Irish pubs anywhere. -I've been to NYC a half-dozen times. It's never made me want to return. Like Kira's rant about the attitude of SF people, I find NYCers tend to be overbearign and obnoxious, and despite the multi-culti reputation I still feel like everyone is yelling at me in a New York accent. I love big cities and culture but NYC just doesn't have that "magic" for me. -I like Germany because I live here, but I had zero interest in it before I moved here. I had to force myself to become interested in the history, art, and architecture. Now I genuinely am, but I don't try to sell people who aren't already interested in Germany on it. Except for Berlin. Berlin is amazing if you do it right (which isn't hard).
Steve, it's that four line thing that is in the last post I made on the capris thread. You seemed to respond to it.... Zoe, that's a good point!
Actually I realized I have a lot... -Been in Europe nearly 3 years, never been to Italy. I don't have the interest. Everyone says, "But you're a foodie, you'd LOVE Italy!" but I find Italian food - even the authentic kind - pretty boring. I'll take Spanish cusiene any day. I will go to Italy soon and maybe that will change my mind, we'll see. -Russia straight up scares me AND I have no interest in it. The politics there are appalling, the hassle of getting there is a pain in the ass, just no. I have no plans on ever visiting. -I felt pretty "meh" about Scandinavian capitals until I visited Copenhagen. I loved it but the high price tag is a bummer for me right now. It's made me reconsider my reluctance to visit Oslo or Stockholm but I can't afford it right now anyway so it's not high on the list. I also felt that Copenhagen would be a great city to live in, but for the tourist it doesn't offer all that much in the way of attractions. But I enjoyed the atmosphere. Would kill to live there. -I think Munich is kind of boring. The first time it's fun for a couple days, but it loses something with ever repeat visit. The Hofbrauhaus is lame. I actually have to go to Oktoberfest this year (meeting up with friends from the U.S.) and I'm dreading it. Frankly, I think Stuttgart and Frankfurt are more interesting. I also didn't care for Cologne. -My biggest shameful travel secret is that there are a handful of places I'm thrilled to return to over and over again while not visiting any new ones: Berlin, Paris, Marsielle, Barcelona, Vienna, Budapest - can't get enough. To the exclusion of other places. I actually feel ashamed of that!
Spent the past 2 weeks chasing after the Tour de France & stopped at several McDonalds- shamefull to admit, but the food & coffee were good & a decent value.
I love this thread christina. Tell me how does everyone afford to travel to europe so much? Seems like most of you visit all the time. I would love to be able to do that.i am an average income dude. Spill the beana please.
@Steve - check out this thread that ran back in March of this year, lots of good ideas. www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/helpline/index.cfm?topic=80581
Another shameful secret, I like cruises. My only caveat is, if you haven't visited them before, the ports of call should be appropriate for a one-day visit. Rome, Florence, Barcelona, etc. aren't a place to see in a day. Split, Dubrovnik, Ephesus, however, may be just right for one full day.
Whew...where to start! 1. Been to Paris twice and haven't been to the Louvre. 2. No matter what country I'm in I eventually end up at an Italian restaurant.
3. I live in western Canada, but inter-Canadian airfares are so expensive that I've never travelled to Eastern Canada. We looked into spending a month travelling to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and then renting a car to drive as far as Quebec City or Montreal before flying home. After comparing costs, we'll be spending that month in France and Spain! When we were in Italy last year we figured we ate cheaper than we could at home.
I have little interest in Germany. I've been to Berlin and several other places, but have little interest in seeing them again or checking out other places. No interest at all in Poland. Been to London a few times and have never been to the Tower or seen the Crown Jewels. No interest what-so-ever. Just about every other place in Europe is fine or I've been there. One thing I feel guilty about sometimes: when staying in a city/town for several nights, I will often revisit the same restaurant 2-3 times. If I like the place and food, it's easier to go back and become a regular for a few nights (I love how the staff recognizes me and "welcomes" me back).
Love knowing there are fellow travelers feeling the same way about some places and totally opposite about others. The Vatican museum made me feel like a salmon headed upstream and why wouldn't people be quiet in the Sistine Chapel! My absence will free up space for those who love it. The only way I'd go back to Rome is a free trip. Fortunately, I get horribly seasick, so I have a ready excuse for skipping cruise ships. I am keeping river cruises in the loop for when mobility becomes an issue. I can handle 150 people, but not 1,000+. As it was, we spent too much time worrying about lining up for dinner and what table our group was going to get. I think at least once on every Euro trip we've checked in to a business style hotel so my husband can stretch out in large bed. And, every hotel choice needs an elevator.
Reading recent entries reminded me of another one; I was completely disappointed with the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. Part of it was the crowd and the guards yelling "No Photo! No Photo!" and part of it may have been the poor light not showing off the paintings at their best. But somehow, I expected the space to be larger and opulently designed (besides the art) and in fact, it was a plain rectangular room. It didn't feel like a special place at all. Perhaps people are just expressing themselves with hyperbole, but I am surprised to read so many people say "I have no interest in visiting _______". I can't think of anywhere outside the USA that I have NO interest in visiting - just varying degrees of interest.
The 'no photo! no photo!' reminds me of the opposite...when we were in Venice at the Correr Museum, the guard was encouraging us to take pictures! "You're allowed, snap snap"...but there wasn't a whole lot I felt the need to photograph...but it was a lovely museum...
Congratulations Christina! You are now the most popular thread on the site. There is only so much you can said about manpris...... :)
Bullfights, because I'm opposed. Battlefields and sights that are only military history (not general history of a culture, with some military focus, but specifically battle or military sights/musuems) because I'm just not especially interested. Concentration camps because emotionally I just can't handle it. I need to get over this one. Climbing up in things in cities for the view. Usually not worth the time or money to me. Views of nature, like in the Alps, is a different thing alltogether. I love art, but I spend more time 20th-21st century museums than classical ones. While I never skip the Louvre, I did miss London's National Gallery in favor of the Tate Modern.
Oh, Miranda, my husband drags me up every climbable thing. He loves the pictures he gets from those vantage points. I kind of wanted to skip the dome of St. Peter's when I had a sprained ankle in Rome, but then I decided I'd regret it, and up I went.
I don't tell most people that I have no interest in seeing Paris, because they're generally perplexed. If someone wanted to give me an all-expenses paid trip to Paris, I'd go, but it's not even on the list of places I want to spend my own money to visit. We'll be in London in September (our second visit) and I will not be going to see Buckingham Palace and/or the changing of the guards. For whatever reason it is just not appealing to me. We'll take a day trip to Bath, and even though I enjoy reading Jane Austen and watching BBC adaptations of Jane Austen works, I don't actually have any interest in doing anything Jane Austen-ish while we are there. We're going to see the Roman Baths. I'm also not very interested in NYC. I have lots of friend who do frequent 3-day weekends in NYC (short trip from Boston) but I am just not interested.
Tara gave me another. I don't particularly like French wines. I prefer Italian reds or German dry whites.
Went to Ireland a month ago and EVERYONE says don't miss the "Book of Kells".
We went and I was really disappointed. I felt totally ripped off, specially with the price of 17 euro's for each of us. Plus, they had several signs in there about pickpockets being on the premises. Are you kidding me! With all the security people standing around and cameras wouldn't you think someone would notice the same people coming in every day?! Geez! I much rather liked the free sight seeing places.
Great thread, Christina! My shameful travel secret is that I went to and actually enjoyed a bullfight in Madrid. I'm a big Hemingway fan and tried to see the metaphor of facing death with grace and bravery. The Spanish people sitting around us explained the whole thing to us and for me it was part of learning about a different culture - before we all get McDonald-ized. (It wasn't as gory as you'd think, either.) By the way, when I think of places I haven't liked, I realize there's usually a stupid reason for it - like in the beautiful island of Santorini, I was sick and miserable. Then in Rome, I was dumb enough to go in winter, etc. Thanks to all of you who defended NYC! I've lived here ever since I got out of college and I think what I like is the diversity, the energy, and the attitude - talking with a guy on the subway who looks like a thug but is reading Camus (true story). Plus, there are some special little places here in addition to the great museums, etc. Another shameful secret. Next month I'm going on a Baltic cruise. I'll see places I probably wouldn't get to otherwise, even if it's for just a day, and I really like being on a ship and looking out at nothing. (Remember, I live in NY!)
1. When visiting Ireland we didn't go see the Blarney stone. We also didn't do the Ring of Kerry. Don't regret that because we were driving and doing the Dingle Pen. was easier in that regard. 2. We did a trip where we did Paris, Amsterdam, and Brussels over a 2 week period. The time in each place was enough, but I was surprised/disappointed at how shocking it was to my system to arrive in a new country. It took almost a day to get used to the new city. Based on that, I don't know that I want to do a trip again with so many country changes.
My shameful travel secret(s)? I'm one of those people who sits outside chain smoking at tiny cafe tables while watching passers-by. I could do this for hours. I think the Vatican Museum is not worth the trouble. The Louvre is only marginally better. I really like the Beefeaters at the Tower of London. Most of them are very entertaining and can tell a good tale. Maybe it's because they are not re-enactors. My favorite museum in London is the Sir John Soames Museum. It made me laugh. I have been to Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in London. I enjoyed it and I am very ashamed of that. I stalked some Americans in Paris. I overheard them talking about a restaurant they were going to and stealthily followed them there. They were right! It was great. My idea of a vacation day well-spent is: sleep until I get up, then have coffee visit a site, have a snack, then look for lunch spot eat lunch, visit a site distant from lunch spot, have a drink or two (or three)and some cigarettes, think about where to possibly go for dinner Wander around until dinner spot located, eat
find a place near hotel to hang out (best if this is located upon arrival), hang out until bedtime.
We purposely went to Munich AFTER Oktoberfest. After all, the beer is always there, but the hordes of drunken tourists in Lederhosen and Dirndls are not. Edit: I also have little interest in the so-called "siesta belt" or most of France.
Sorry but this is actually a shameful travel question. I do not mean to start a new thread button my question concerns (shame) toilet paper in Europe. I am not expecting triple soft Charmin or anything. Is it easier to bring baby wipes? Sorry. Lol
My tolerance for art museums is very minimal. At the Louvre, I walked straight to the Mona Lisa, said "that's it???", and walked straight out. I won't go back.
There are lots of must-see things I really like, so it's hard to think of the opposite. Here are a few that seem to go against the grain: Milan, Amsterdam, Munich, and pretty much all of England seemed rather boring to me. I actually like those "historical re-enactment, learn the dance" shows. (Sad, but true.) Have eaten at McDonald's AND have eaten wiener schnitzel on 6 continents. The must-dos of the culinary worldfor cultural comparison, of course! I don't like "cozy little B and B's." I don't like being crammed in at breakfast with a bunch of chatty people I don't know (no offense to you early birds)I like my privacy as I'm trying to wake up and get caffeinated for the day. Same reason I don't like group tours. Cruises-just yuck.
I agree with Amsterdam bordering on boring...just couldn't get excited about the place except for some of its museums and Anne Frank's House.
I've been to Ireland, am going again in a week, and I haven't and won't kiss the Blarney Stone. For as many euro as it costs to get in the castle, I can buy a few more pints and that will surely do more to give me the gift of gab!
Steve - "Is it easier to bring baby wipes?" the water/sewerage companies hate them because of - see this link but not before or just after eating! http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/06/fatberg-london-sewer-grease-blockage?INTCMP=SRCH
On our trip last month to Europe, we skipped the following "must see" places from RS Guidebooks: *Crime & Punishment Museum in Rothenburg (ditto other person who listed this! was of no interest to us despite the hype around it.)
*Doge's Palace (I am guessing this is a "worse" offense. We had already toured Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein in Fussen and the huge Residenz in Munich and so with only limited time in Venice-we decided to wander the back, less crowded parts of Venice and skip the Palace and St. Mark's-though St. Mark's we only skipped after trying two mornings and deciding the line wasn't worth it-despite trying the RS advice there! We just wanted more outdoor Venice beauty and less "old" ornate "stuff.)
Angela, I did almost the same in Venice. Got into St. Mark's just fine, but when we looked at the price for the Doge's Palace we decided to skip it. This was the las leg of our Italy trip, and we were museum'd out. And I like museums and palaces! Venice is so beautiful out of doors, and we were there at a particularly sunny but temperate time.
The Wailing Wall was horrible, with the men and women segregated by fences. If the whole place was bulldozed, with apartments built and trees planted on top, I wouldn't lose any sleep. I know...shameful. I'm glad you know it's shameful. In case you didn't already know the Wailing Wall is the holiest site in the world for Jews.....and as I Jew I find what you have said very offensive.
It was a hot time (July) when we were there, but we are outdoors people. We saved the money from that for gelato. But, I will probably keep it on my list for a future trip. :) Glad to know we didn't commit the ultimate Venice faux pas in that decision! About St. Mark's-Rick Steve's book said you could skip the main line if you checked your bag. We tried this approach and were told after we checked our bags to join the big line! No luck on that little secret. We planned to get there early the day we got off our cruise ship but getting our passports back was a zoo and so we weren't there until 9 a.m. or so and the line was painfully long again. We decided the churches we'd seen in Germany, Switzerland, and Greece would have to do! :)
Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands. Been there twice. Yeah, flowers, lots of flowers, but every town has tulips and daffodils to see for free. Packed with tourists during April blooming season (which is also a rainy season) and loaded with tacky mementos (windmill table mats, miniature wooden shoes). Go to Haarlem instead for your Amsterdam side trip.